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High School Volleyball: Brained stuffs Becker in 8-3A quarterfinals

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For the second straight year, the Brainerd Warriors have won their first match in the Section 8-5A tournament.

Now the challenge is to win the next one, a semifinal matchup at home against the third-seeded Moorhead Spuds Tuesday, Oct. 30, and advance to the section final for the first time since 1991.

Second-seeded Brainerd reached the semifinals with a 3-0 win over the No. 7 Becker Bulldogs Friday, Oct. 26. The victory was Brainerd's 10th straight.

"I don't think we played extremely well," Warriors coach Rick Kuehlwein said. "I think our hitters were off quite a bit. They made a lot of errors tonight. We've got to play better to get around the second round."

Moorhead beat Willmar 2-0 at the Spuds' Invite Oct. 20. Willmar is the section's No. 1 seed. Brainerd lost to Willmar 3-0 and 3-2 and did not play Moorhead during the regular season.

"We're looking forward to it," Brainerd's Delaney Schaeffer said of playing Moorhead. "It will be a good game. It's good to be at home."

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Warriors 3, Becker 0

  • The key: Blocking by Delaney Schaeffer and Karlie Anderson and Jenna Meyer's serving propelled Brainerd
  • Overall: Brainerd 23-5, Becker finishes 15-12
  • Next: No. 3 Moorhead at No. 2 Brainerd in Section 8-3A semifinals 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30.

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Brainerd's Avery Eckman and Courtney Russell combined for 22 kills. but it was middle hitters Schaeffer and Karlie Anderson who stuffed the Bulldogs' offense at the net and Jenna Meyer supplied stifling serving.

"They did do a good job. They blocked well," Kuehlwein said of Schaeffer and Anderson. "We need more offense out of them. That subconsciously gets in the back of a setter's mind where they're going to put the ball. We went outside way too much tonight. We set Courtney 41 times. We set Avery 36 times.

"They had good production, don't get me wrong, but it's not the production we need to beat Moorhead."

Schaeffer, a 6-foot-2 junior, provided five blocks. Anderson, a 5-10 sophomore, contributed four blocks.

"(Kuehlwein) said don't really worry about the right side. Just focus on getting it over and getting up," Schaeffer said. "He basically just said keep your eye on the setter, then watch the hitters." Meyer spurred the Warriors in the third game. Trailing 13-10, she rattled off three consecutive ace serves to tie the game. Brainerd rallied for a 25-23 victory as Russell smacked two kills down the stretch and added an ace tip. Ashlyn Sellnow contributed an ace serve and Schaeffer a block.

"Our defense was fine," Kuehlwein said. "Our hitting was not good. Our middles didn't do much. Our block stepped up quite a bit. That helped a lot. I told the kids at the beginning of the match that our back row was going to win this match. Our back row played a lot better defense."

Becker led only three times—by one point each time—in the first two games.

Russell, Ellie Peabody and Anderson each drilled two kills for the Warriors in a 25-18 win in Game One.

Eckman added five kills in Game Two, another 25-18 Warrior win, during which Russell pounded three kills and Anderson collected two blocks.

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Becker 18 18 23

Brainerd 25 25 25

Brainerd statistics

Courtney Russell 11 kills, 7 digs

Jenna Meyer 3 ace serves, 10 digs

Avery Eckman 11 kills, 11 digs

Kealy Johnson 15 set assists, 3 digs

Delaney Schaeffer 5 blocks

Ashlyn Sellnow 12 set assists

Karli Anderson 4 blocks